One year ago tomorrow, hurricane Klaus hit south west France. OK, it wasn't exactly on Katrina scale and it wasn't actually categorised as a hurricane, but for those of us who were affected, it was pretty bloody scary.
I was alone with our youngest child. James was up in Normandy doing some work on my father's property. The two girls were staying overnight with friends. During the night a huge old oak, fell and blocked our drive. The house was isolated and we were stranded. So come Saturday morning, it was just me, Max and his sodding Action Men. If the girls had been there, I could have walked for help. But it was far too dangerous to take a 7 year old outside or leave him and set out on my own. We were stuck.
The electricity went off first, followed by the water. Then the land line. Then the mobile. By late afternoon, light was fading, we were flushing toilets with buckets of rainwater and I was debating whether to have a cup of tea or save the last glass of water to clean our teeth. After a couple of hours playing Lego by candlelight, it was time to go to bed. At 8pm.
24 hours later and I'd had enough. Unwashed, thirsty and totally pissed off, James' arrival bearing a generator, packs of water and bottles of wine (thank God for motorway service stations that sell alcohol), was little short of a miracle. I didn't quite prostrate myself in the drive weeping - but nearly.
Our experience wasn't half as bad as some people's. The image is of our friends house, a couple of miles away. He lost his roof. And most of his house. Chez nous, no one was hurt and having the generator meant we had hot water. A wood burning stove kept us warm. Friends who still had water filled jerry cans for us and the house didn't suffer major damage - just a few missing tiles and leaks.
Last week, the insurers finally paid out on our claim for the stuff that was damaged during the storm. Luckily it was for things that weren't essential to our day to day existence. I dread to think how we would have coped if we'd lost vital stuff and had to wait for nearly a year to be paid.
So, how did the storm affect you? My duck farming neighbour opposite reckons that we are due another one . I hope not....